My Problem Child

The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a central concern of philosophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experience.

The first planned experiment was therefore so deeply moving and alarming, because everyday reality and the ego experiencing it, which I had until then considered to be the only reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations. Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receiver, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank.

The entry of another reality may be explained by the fact that the brain, the seat of the receiver, becomes biochemically altered. The receiver is thereby tuned into another wavelength than that corresponding to normal, everyday reality. Since the endless variety and diversity of the universe correspond to infinitely many different wavelengths, depending on the adjustment of the receiver, many different realities, including the respective ego, can become conscious. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings.

This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition, which under favorable conditions can be evoked, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.

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A concept of reality that separates self and the world has decisively determined the evolutionary course of European intellectual history. Experience of the world as matter, as object, to which man stands opposed, has produced modern natural science and technology—creations of the Western mind that have changed the world. With their help human beings have subdued the world. Ecclesiastical Christianity, determined by the duality of creator and creation, has, however, with its nature-alienated religiosity largely obliterated the Eleusinian-Dionysian legacy of antiquity. In the Christian sphere of belief, only special blessed men have attested to a timeless, comforting reality, experienced in a spontaneous vision, an experience to which in antiquity the elite of innumerable generations had access through the initiation at Eleusis.

As a path to the perception of a deeper, comprehensive reality, in which the experiencing individual is also sheltered, meditation, in its different forms, occupies a prominent place today. The essential difference between meditation and prayer in the usual sense, which is based upon the duality of creator nad creation, is that meditation aspires to the abolishment of the I-you-barrier by a fusing of object and subject, of sender and receiver, of objective reality and self. Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time.

Albert Hoffman – My Problem Child

Thought 211.

We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men, wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, etc.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.

Blaise Pascal – Pensées

The Lighthouse Keeper

Those who knew him said that he had no luck, and with that they explained everything. He himself became somewhat of a monomaniac. He believed that some mighty and vengeful hand was pursuing him everywhere, on all lands and waters. He did not like, however, to speak of this; only at times, when some one asked him whose hand that could be, he pointed mysteriously to the Polar Star, and said, “It comes from that place.”

Light-house keepers are generally men not young, gloomy, and confined to themselves. If by chance one of them leaves his light- house and goes among men, he walks in the midst of them like a person roused from deep slumber. On the tower there is a lack of minute impressions which in ordinary life teach men to adapt themselves to everything. All that a light-house keeper comes in contact with is gigantic, and devoid of definitely outlined forms. The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness. That is a life in which thought is continual meditation, and out of that meditation nothing rouses the keeper, not even his work. Day is like day as two beads in a rosary, unless changes of weather form the only variety.

Henryk Sienkiewicz – The Lighthouse Keeper Of AspinWall

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

I’m now almost convinced of it. It seemed clear that life and the world were now as if dependent on me. One might even say that the world was now as if made for me alone: I’d shoot myself and there would be no more world, at least for me. Not to mention that maybe there would indeed be nothing for anyone after me, and that as soon as my consciousness was extinguished, the whole world would be extinguished at once, like a phantom, like a mere accessory of my consciousness, it would be done away with, for maybe all this world and all these people were – just myself alone.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Dream of a Ridiculous Man